The Music We Loved Most in 2012

I'm so fucking tired! And was having gross writer's block on the evening and morning I designated as being my "2012 music wrap-up writing time." It was stupid. I wrote like 3000 words of nonsense about "Song of the Viking" by Todd Rundgren and then went to bed and had a scary dream about visiting a malfunctioning Led Zeppelin-themed amusement park that was also a gym with a dude I had a crush on in high school. He was being really unhelpful about dealing with malfunctioning amusement park issues. Then I was like, "I wish I lived closer to this amusement park! I would really love to work out at this gym," because I'm boring.  

I woke up and deleted the Rundgren garbage. I decided to be very good to myself/lazy. No more words-writing you poor words-writer! So this is what you get. An extremely uncomfortable and awkwardly paced mix CD composed of songs most evocative of such utterly fascinating moments from my 2012 as "walking to the gym in March," "walking to Starbucks in June," "sitting at a Starbucks in May," walking to the liquor store in September," and "walking to the bank in October"!  I also stapled two sheets of Korean stationery together, scribbled in colored pencil, and stuck a Letraset of the letter X to a glittery lion sticker's eye. 

In 2013 I would like to write some cooler and more interesting words about Todd Rundgren, Graham Nash and Paris 1919 by John Cale for SFW. Those are three of my New Year's resolutions. My other New Year's resolution is "be a shittier person," which I may or may not blog about ever. I have started being a way shittier person than I used to be for the last few months of 2012 and it's seriously revelatory and has saved me a ton of boring trouble. 

Anyway! If you are interested in entering the sweepstakes to win a copy of my awkward (that is really the only word that can be used to describe it) "best of 2012" mix that doesn't flow naturally and/or at all, complete with the exclusive and limited edition strawberry-bear-and-lion-themed "CD case" seen above, please email your response to the question What is your favorite section of the song "Band on the Run" by Wings? to laurajanefaulds at gmail dot com by December 31st as the clock strikes twelve. The winner will be based on criteria I have not yet decided, so wow me. 

the only person who ever put Azealia Banks after Sparks on a mix CD ever, probs

Jen's Most Loved Songs & Records

Grass Widow  - Internal Logic. I think Grass Widow are an amazing band. I go to see them more or less every time they play New York.  When they stop playing I’m always like, “No! More!”, but also impressed with the way they leave you wanting more and kind of refuse to over do it. Internal Logic is, to me, close to flawless. Here is a list of words that are evocative of this beautiful record : outer space, light, brains, feelings, dimensions, harmonies,  acceptance, the future, star trek the original series, emotional intelligence.  Go there.

Theme song from LouieProbably this TV show theme song has had a more profound effect on me than most albums have. I know that It is originally a song by Hot Chocolate that was covered a million times.  Unfortunately, the original and the covers don’t really do it for me. What does is Theme Song Version. When it starts my whole body relaxes. It’s easily the best song I’ve ever heard. The music video (aka opening credits of the show) is perfect - Louis walking and eating pizza oh my god. Changing the second “cry” to “die” is genius because guess what Louis is going to die and actually all of us are too.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill. I deeply love the first song on this album, "Driftin' Back." It's essentially 30 minutes of Neil saying, “hey now now hey now now/ I’m driftin’ back” alternating with thoughts on his life. I find this incredibly comforting. I get super psyched when he talks about meditation. He has a different understanding of TM than I do but whatever, Neil does his own thing. When the 30 minutes of Neil’s Thoughts end I hate it. Luckily I like most of the album a whole bunch too. “Walk Like a Giant” is beautiful and makes me want to cry sometimes. I hate “Twisted Road” and wish it wasn’t on the album. For the most part the album is Neil & Crazy Horse riffing on Neil’s past and also ravers & girls that like dancing. I need nothing else.

Hole - Live Through This with a special shout out to "Violet." I listened to this so much this year and I don’t really have anything to say about that besides, AND THE SKY WAS MADE OF AMETHYST.

Kraftwerk - Trans-Europe Express. Remember how when Kraftwerk at MoMA tickets went onsale and the internet broke and we were all stuck inside the internet on a virtual queue and living out a Kraftwerk song? That was so annoying. I entered this contest to win tickets after being disheartened by staying in a digital queue for 2 hours for nothing. I WON!! Isn’t that crazy? I thought I was being punked. It turns out pretty much everyone that entered won. But, whatever. I won! I saw Trans-Europe Express. It was really cool. Way cool.  When I was watching them in my 3-d glasses I thought, “oh my god, they were/are geniuses”. Also it was fun. I used to mostly just want to listen to The Man Machine on repeat, but after this show I started listening to Trans Europe Express more than my beloved “We Are The Robots.” I went to Europe for the first time this year also so probably I, like, totally got it.

"Good Day Today" by David Lynch & also all music from Twin Peaks. 2012 above anything else for me was the year of Lynch. I got SO into this song. I hate this video I don’t know why he picked it to win in the contest. This song makes me feel such joy. If you’re feeling so tired of fire & smoke and want to have a good day today this is the song for you.  He’s so positive & weird! Positively weird. Also, obviously I love every second of music in Twin Peaks & basically everything with Angelo & David together. The end.

2012 Was As Good As Gold by Liz

I made a Spotify playlist of the songs I loved best this year. It's called "2012 was good as gold," because that's mostly true. Here are the songs:

"Gold" by John Stewart. I heard this song for the first time one morning at the beginning of the year, it was playing on the radio and I assumed it was a disco song that Johnny Cash recorded with Stevie Nicks in 1981. But really it's by this John Stewart guy, about whom I know nothing except that he made a weird and gorgeous song about loving Los Angeles and believing in rock-and-roll. It's an ideal anthem for me and I'm so grateful I happened to be listening to the radio at that very moment. My favorite lyric is "California girls are the greatest in the world/Each one a song in the making." A good one for the gravestone.

"I Shall Be Released" by the Hollies. In February there were like two weeks where all I listened to was "I Shall Be Released," mostly the version from The Last Waltz. I was going through a thing of being torn up and ruinously angry over a dude I never even liked that much in the first place, which is the worst, and a waste -- at least real heartbreak has some sort of beauty to it. I watched that part of The Last Waltz over and over all the time and pretended Neil Young and Bob Dylan and Van Morrison were all my buddies and helping me through my shit, and it made me feel better and cool and all right. The Hollies version is a lot more chill and prettier and suited to fairly low-pressure end-of-the-year self-reflection, but this one means so much more:

"Jackie Wilson Said (I'm In Heaven When You Smile)" by Van Morrison. I got way into Van Morrison this year; I love how he's a total bastard but such a romantic. This song's so happy and the best is the "BOOM BOOM BOOM" of the second verse. If you're dancing to "Jackie Wilson Said" in a room full of people, like at a wedding or something, you have to tap your hand against your heart in time to that part. I think that should be international law.

The Lemonheads cover of "Keep On Loving You" by REO Speedwagon. Apart from most of the years in my adolescence, 2012 was the year I cared most about the Lemonheads. More than ever before, I appreciate Evan Dando for being a crackerjack songwriter and a beautiful goofball. I love how ragged and ruined his voice is here, and how the piano + drums + vocals arrangement has a scrappy junior-high-music-recital sort of feel to it. I also love the surprise ending, and when he sings the word "meant" as "smeant." Evan and I became Twitter friends earlier this year and that makes me feel really special.

"Hey Jane" by Spiritualized. I always take Spiritualized for granted. Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space is one of the most important albums in the history of my life but most of the time I forget it even exists. J. Spaceman's just this weird skulky presence and it's easy to let him slip by unnoticed, but I'm so thankful I remembered him enough to get the new Spiritualized album. In my book there's a girl named Jane who's kind of an asshole but when J Spaceman sings "Some say you got a rotten soul, but I say Janie loves rock-and-roll," I feel for her and I love her. 

"A Year and a Day" by the Beastie Boys. For a while after MCA died there'd be moments when I'd stop and say to myself "MCA is dead. One of the Beastie Boys is dead" and it seemed unreal and the younger me couldn't process it. It seems real that MCA is dead now, and now that seems unreal to me, so yeah: I really just don't know. But the good news is I found this "Year and a Day"-era picture last night and I love it so much, they're such cute kids:

"All Wash Out" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. This song evens me out. It's tender. I very much came to value tenderness over the past year.

"Sixteen Saltines" by Jack White. But "Sixteen Saltines" is not very tender at all! It's sooooo aggro, and I value its aggroness. When I was in that nasty place I wrote about in the "I Shall Be Released" paragraph, I thought it would be cool to karaoke this song in front of the dude I hated while throwing fistfuls of cake at the karaoke screen and then at the dude's face. That would have been so dumb. But it was energizing and satisfying to think about sometimes.

"Never Been Any Reason" by Head East. I already wrote about what "Never Been Any Reason" means to me and my book, when I wrote about Dazed and Confused. It means even more to me now than it did back then. LIONS NOT COCAINE FOREVER & EVER

"And Then The Girls" by Donora. I wrote about this song for MTV, when I used to write for MTV. I don't know anything about Donora but "And Then The Girls" is super-catchy in a gentle sort of way, and it's got a durability that really impresses me. Usually songs that sound all shimmery-sparkly-sugary tend to wear on me real fast, but there's something transcendent about the sweetness of this song. The video's transcendentally sweet too.

"Anything We Want" by Fiona Apple. Semi-regretfully, I'm already sick of most of the new Fiona Apple album -- I really needed it when it came out and now I don't need it anymore, and that feels pretty good. But "Anything We Want" still sounds great -- so, so great. I ripped off the part about neck-touching for my book and built a dinner party scene around it, and that was smart of me. I am thankful to Fiona Apple for many things.

"On to the Next One" by Jay-Z. AKA my favorite breakup song of 2012. 

"Mercy" by Kanye West et al. It's so crazy to me, how "Mercy" sounds just as exciting to me now as when I first heard it four months ago. Sometimes it even sounds more exciting. Most songs can't do that.

"Eaten by the Monster of Love" by Sparks. One day in August I took the bus from central Massachusetts to New York City to visit a bunch of beautiful people, like Laura Fisher and so on. The bus ride took like five years and it was grossly hot out, but I wanted really badly to just walk down the street in Manhattan for a while, so I did. I put my iPod on shuffle and one of the first songs to come on was "Eaten by the Monster of Love" and sounded so good, so intensely and sublimely good, the best it's ever sounded to me. I was sweaty and the world smelled bad and I was late to meet my friends but everything was so perfectly disgusting and I loved Sparks so much in that moment. P.S. LJ's Fanzine essay about Sparks is one of my five fave things I read this year and I seriously think about it every day.

"Jungleland" by Bruce Springsteen. Earlier this year I came up with the idea that they should invent a version of "Jungleland" that's neverending, that just goes on and on forever with new and different verses and lyrics continually being generated (it was all based on Laura Fisher's idea for self-replenishing ice cream, speaking of Laura Fisher). Even though "Jungeland" is nearly ten minutes long I still want more, I want "Jungeland" to last forever. And when my fam and I went to see Bruce Springsteen in August I made a wish for him to play "Jungleland" and he did and I felt really blessed. My favorite non-music part of the Bruce show was when Bruce said the words "Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts!" I can't remember if he said "Ghosts, ghosts, ghosts!" before or after playing "Jungleland," but ghosts and "Jungleland" are very connected for me.

"Waitin' 4 U" by Foxygen. I like lots of new bands but I hardly ever love new bands, but I love Foxygen so much. Right now I feel like "Waitin' 4 U" is my favorite song of 2012, but then I also feel like that feeling might be fleeting. Who knows. When the boy sings "Doin' it all for love, doin' a bunch of drugs," I wish that he were a character I'd invented and that I'd written those words for him. Please listen to Foxygen! They're so good!

"Amanita" by Animal Collective. This song still reminds me of the story of Tikki Tikki Tembo No Sa Rembo Chari Bari Ruchi Pip Peri Pembo and I still have no idea why but I enjoy it very much.

"Peace and Love" by Cat Power. I have so much to say about "Peace and Love" and why it makes me feel closely connected to Joan from Mad Men, and about the Monday morning at the start of the summer when I euphorically drank a plastic bottle of coconut water while walking down Sunset and life was really hot in at least three different ways -- but I'm not ready to say it yet. Sometime in 2013, I'll tell you that story.

"Sister Ray" by the Velvet Underground. I wrote this song into a scene in my book when my main girl really shines and is powerful in a very overt way for the first time in her life, so now whenever "Sister Ray" comes on I feel so proud of her. I'm all You go, girl, as Jen May would say.

"Bye Bye Love" by the Cars. Basically all the songwriters and bands I loved most this year are the ones whose lyrics are romantic in a weird and twisted yet totally purehearted way. I loved Cars this year more than any other, I love lyrics like "It's an orangy sky/Always it's some other guy" and "Your eyes of porcelin and of blue, they shock me into sense." They're so groovy and poetic and my favorite is the line that goes "You think you're so illustrious, you call yourself intense," how it's so mean and adoring at the same time. The Cars are such gentlemen. I wish we had a Cars today.

"Unsatisfied" by the Replacements. I remain of the opinion that "Unsatisfied" is a perfect song to claim as the theme of your life. "Unsatisfied" Day was a really important day for me.

"The Ballad of El Goodo" by Big Star. I fell in love with Big Star this year, which I already wrote about. "The Ballad of El Goodo" is defiantly hopeful and for me it's like some light-filled and lovely flipside to "Unsatisfied." And oh my god I just listened to the Evan Dando version for the first time and it's such a dream. I genuinely really feel the choice of font and the image of leaves floating on tree-reflecting water in this "lyrics video":

"After the Gold Rush" by Neil Young. The Live Rust version. This year I saw Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and Patti Smith, which is so lucky and amazing, and a few days after Neil Young I had the realization that "There was a band playing in my head & I felt like getting high" would be a sensible epitaph for me. Not high like "on drugs," necessarily, but high like elevated, rapturous, stoked, turned-on, in the Beatlesy definition of things. The Beatlesy definition of things is generally always the way to go.


  1. I'm totally girl crushin on you guys.

  2. Jen (whom I've never addressed, because I haven't been internet friends with you for the past 13 years like I have been with Liz & LJ? not a good reason!) - about Grass Widow - I saw them twice this spring, once in Seattle and once in Olympia. The Olympia show was all ages and like just down the street from where I live, so I walked down there at like 11 PM so I didn't have to go to a whole show, and I got there *exactly* when they started playing. I couldn't see them at all, because there's not a stage in the venue, the band just plays on the floor. It was packed with so many high school kids, and notably, a TON of high school boys! It was just like, fuck YES, this is one of the longstanding effects of riot grrl, that high school boys will go dance their butts off to this pretty pretty girl music; like, it was obvious they were taking it really seriously. Anyway yeah they're so fucking good. Have you read this?: http://believermag.tumblr.com/post/24420335252/tobi-vail-interviews-grass-widow-grass-widow

    1. that is so beautiful! they are the best! i love the world they create with their music. i can't get enough. i somehow haven't read this interview but it sounds like a dream! i will do so now.